Brad Pitt and the Most Convenient Plot Ever
Seven (1995) is a dark, dreary thriller from David Fincher, the man who has spent his entire career trying to make the most depressing movies ever. Seven is a good film, but it has a lot of plot conveniences. A LOT. Many of these plot conveniences are so obscure and so fantastic, that it surprises me just how well the villain plays Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, the detectives in the film.
To actually move the plot, the detectives have to connect the dots on multiple occasions, trying to pinpoint just what is so important about each murder committed by Kevin Spacey. Doing that is near impossible. Don’t get me wrong, it is very entertaining to watch, especially as Freeman drags in clues from Dante’s Inferno and Paradise Lost. Why isn’t this guy a professor instead of a police detective? I don’t get it.
1. The police find the Sloth victim facedown in a bowl of spaghetti, which the police have to connect to the other killings. The murder, not the spaghetti. Using his Sherlock Holmes skills, Morgan Freedom uncovers some hidden clues that everyone else missed.
2. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freethinker find some fingerprints hidden behind a painting in a dead lawyer’s office. These are more hidden clues, only revealed by dusting a large wall for prints.
3. John Doe turns himself in, which is convenient for the police, but sets into motion the most convenient ending in the history of movies. Nevermind that the package delivery at the end has to be at just the right time and done in just the right way to be effective, but the fact that the police agree to all of it is pretty amazing.
4. John Doe shoots at Brad Pitt and Morgan Freemason when they arrive at his apartment, implying that Doe didn’t expect them. He therefore has to step up his schedule, as he freely admits later on in the film. It doesn’t hamper his plan at all. He doesn’t even break a sweat.
5. As he spies on a crime scene, John Doe photographs Brad Pitt and shows he knows a lot more than he lets on, but could have lied about the info in my previous point. This is the convenience to end all conveniences, as the movie uses John Doe’s intelligence and planning to circumvent almost everything and anything.
6. No one sees John Doe ever. EVER. And no one can identify him. There are no records of his identity anywhere that the police can dig up. As he plans his murders, no one runs into him. He keeps a fat man for the Gluttony murder under lock and key for a very long time, but no one notices. He keeps the thin Sloth victim captive for over a year, but no one notices. Not his landlord. Not the neighbors. Nobody. He keeps a high-priced lawyer captive for a weekend, in his own high-priced office building. Nobody notices. No alarms go off. No camera catches John Doe entering or leaving. Nobody knows a darn thing.
If nothing else, the script of this movie shows that nobody cares about anybody in New York City. This is the perfect contrast to Brad Pitt’s character in the film. He preaches as much about how the world is worth saving as the villain preaches about its evils. Brad Pitt’s philosophy also contrasts Morgan Freethinker’s, who is very cynical about the world. He can’t understand why his partner would intentionally move to a cesspool like New York. The ending is Pitt’s reward for his beliefs, as his wife is murdered and his life destroyed. Pretty twisted.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was not so much a portrait of a horrible time in New York, as it is a story about the contemptibly of man. David Fincher makes this gloomy story a visual treat, as the city itself comes to life with despicable intentions, and then the movie asks YOU, the VIEWER: Is the world worth saving?
On the way to being depressed, David Fincher makes sure everything is caked in grim and dirt and filth. EVERYTHING. And everyone is quirky in one way or another In fact, most characters are overwhelmingly indulgent or sad or both. Even Brad Pitt’s innocent elementary school teacher wife is clinically depressed. The camera goes for minutes on end just showing us pictures of people staring into nothing. STARING AT NOTHING. Hey, I’m depressed, I’m sad, so I’ll just sit here and put my head down. KEEP THE CAMERA ROLLING.
As a thriller, this movie is good. As a script, conveniences pile upon conveniences until I was finally wondering how it all really came together. You need a suspension of disbelief for this one. As a thematic piece, this one is textbook, with rising action and character deconstruction galore, but it is a sad, depressing, and hopeless movie. In the end, David Fincher steps all over Brad Pitt’s high hopes for society and lets the grit roll in. Brad Pitt even cries, that’s how gloomy this movie is. Let’s hope the world really isn’t as bad as the one in Seven. I do.